OSHA 2020 Outlook

OSHA 2020 Outlook

Scott Wallace

Scott Wallace

Director of OSHA Outreach

Since 1993 I’ve been involved with workplace safety. I started by researching, writing and producing safety training videos. Which then lead to interactive training programs on laser disc, CDROMs and eventually web based online training programs. I also became an OSHA Outreach Trainer and have overseen our OSHA 10 and 30 Hour online course offerings since we became an authorized vendor in 2005. I find it very rewarding that my job allows me to make a positive difference in workers lives.

How might 2020 be shaping up for OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration)? Here are some key points of interest to contemplate.

1. OSHA Leader?

The start of 2020 for OSHA looks just like the start of 2019 - without a confirmed leader. Currently Loren Sweatt, who is the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, is still the acting Assistant Secretary of Labor. President Trump nominated Scott Mugno in October of 2017, but Mungo’s confirmation was delayed and then he withdrew himself from the process in May of 2019.

2. 2020 Budget?

Item

2018 Enacted

2019 Enacted

2020 Requested

Safety and Health Standards

18,000,000

18,000,000

18,000,000

Federal Enforcement

208,000,000

209,000,000

212,000,000

Whistleblower Programs

17,500,000

17,500,000

18,624,000

State Programs

100,850,000

102,350,000

102,350,000

Technical Support

24,469,000

24,469,000

24,469,000

Compliance Assistance-Federal

70,981,000

73,481,000

73,914,000

Compliance Assistance-State Consultations

59,500,000

59,500,000

59,500,000

Compliance Assistance-Training Grants

10,357,000

10,357,000

0

Safety and Health Statistics

32,900,000

32,900,000

38,400,000

Executive Direction

10,050,000

10,050,000

9,496,000

Total Budget Authority

552,787,000

557,233,000

557,533,000

Total FTE

1,878

1,911

1,944

The FY 2020 Budget provides $557,533,000 and 1,944 direct FTE for OSHA, which is an increase of $300,000 and 33 FTE over the FY 2019 Enacted level. Specifically, the FY 2020 Budget includes additional staff resources, including net increases of $1,124,000 and 5 FTE to hire Whistleblower Investigators; $3,780,000 and 26 FTE for additional Compliance Safety and Health Officers; and $433,000 and two FTE for OSHA Training Institute instructors.

OSHA’s budget also includes IT increases, including $3,000,000 to migrate the agency portfolio of business software applications to the commercial cloud, and an increase of $2,500,000 for Worker Protection IT modernization resources. These resources will be managed by OCIO on behalf of the worker protection agencies and OCIO will work in collaboration with the worker protection agencies to determine the specific funding requirements and where funding can best support the Department’s IT modernization efforts.

The proposed increases are offset with plans to streamline and make OSHA more efficient. In addition, the Department proposes to eliminate the Susan Harwood Training Grants to maximize flexibility and use alternative methods to develop and distribute training materials to reach the broadest possible audience.

3. 2020 Focus?

OSHA has not been very forthcoming about 2020. Certain information on their website has not been updated for a quite a while. Below are some statements from the FY 2020 Congressional Budget Justification for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration that could provide some insight:

General

“In FY 2020, OSHA will focus on regulatory activities consistent with the President’s Executive Order 13777 “Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda” and Executive Order 13771 “Reducing Regulations and Controlling Regulatory Costs.” The agency will seek to find the appropriate balance in responding to industry groups and other interested parties regarding standards, addressing new information about hazards and their effects, and the desire to streamline OSHA’s regulations to ensure standards are not burdensome or outdated.”

Standards

“During FY 2020, OSHA plans to publish two final rules on beryllium in general industry and hazard communication. The agency also plans to publish two notices of proposed rulemaking on tree care and silica exposure in construction to update Table 1 of the standard. OSHA plans to produce 40 guidance documents as well as material to support compliance assistance activities.”

Enforcement

“In FY 2020, OSHA plans to continue the Site Specific Targeting (SST) inspections to help focus agency efforts. The second year of SST inspections will target non-construction workplaces with 20 or more employees and is based on the injury and illness information employers submitted to OSHA through the Injury Tracking Application. OSHA created inspection lists of establishments with elevated Days Away Restricted or Transferred (DART) rate, together with a random sample of establishments that did not provide the required data to OSHA.”

Whistleblower Programs

“In FY 2020, OSHA is requesting $18,624,000 and 131 FTE, an increase of $1,124,000 and 5 FTE from the FY 2019 Enacted Appropriation. The request includes an increase of $1,948,000 and 10 FTE to hire new whistleblower investigators and make improvements to IT systems supporting the program to address the growing number of new complaints filed and the ongoing backlog of docketed cases. These new investigators, once trained, will join the existing staff to increase the number of completed investigations, both newly filed and those in backlog status. The agency received a total of 9,566 new complaints in FY 2018 and expects to receive more than 9,600 in FY 2019 and FY 2020.

OSHA will continue to expand the use of the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Program in FY 2020, which has proven to be an effective alternative to traditional enforcement activities in resolving complaints of retaliation. The agency will also continue efforts to improve the quality and efficiency of the Request for Review (RFR) process and look for methods to address the increase in investigations under Section 1904.35(b)(1)(iv) of OSHA’s recordkeeping rule.”